What do I provide the designer when the project starts? It depends on the project. I personally send a checklist or a design brief requesting what I need from my client prior to the project start. A good designer will prepare you for what you’ll need to get started on the design. You at least need to have a vision or an idea of what you want. It makes the design process go a lot smoother if you can communicate to your designer the look and feel you are going for.
What is the best way to communicate with my designer? The best way is email. I know some people like to discuss things on the phone but you want a written account of all correspondence between you and the designer. Should issues arise, you have a paper trail of everything. Phone calls are secondary in the event email communication just doesn’t suffice. The other reason why phone calls are secondary is the designer needs as much time as possible to focus on the design at hand, so it can be difficult if the phone is ringing off the hook. I personally take scheduled phone calls from my clients only for an initial consultation or to resolve any issues that need additional clarity.
How is site maintenance handled? This depends. If you want maintenance of your site after it’s completed, then this can be negotiated with your designer. Most designers will answer support related questions via email; however changes to your website often include an additional fee.
Should the website designer be familiar with search engine optimization? Yes, the designer should have some basic knowledge of SEO.
What are normal timelines for working on projects? Should there be provisions in place? It depends on the project. If there are deadlines, this should be included in the contract as an approximate time. If you have a deadline, let your designer know. Most designers will give you a milestone date or inform you when you will receive the deliverables.
Should a website designer be flexible with their terms & requirements? Not necessarily. Terms and conditions are implemented to protect both you and the designer. It is a legal and binding agreement between you and the designer. There are certain terms and conditions in contracts that are negotiable; it just needs to be discussed with your designer. Because of copyright laws and you’re dealing with art in the digital sense, there are certain terms and conditions that cannot be negotiated. If you are concerned about your rights as business owner, it is best you speak with an attorney, before you sign off on any contracts.
Should they provide long term relationship and website support? Not exactly. If this is something that is included in the initial contract then of course, but that doesn’t automatically come with a website design. I know I offer my clients a few days of support following the website design (this is included in my contract) to answer questions they may have; however repeated or excessive website support or website changes are additional. If you need this type of service ask your designer to offer you a package. Since most designers are working multiple clients, and are solo business owners, it’s hard to offer clients lifetime support without compensation.
Top 5 questions to ask your designer:
These questions are assuming you’re looking for a designer:
- How long have you been a designer?
- Do you have a portfolio?
- What’s your specialty?
- Do you have any references?
- What is your design process?
These questions are assuming you’ve booked this designer:
- What is the time frame?
- What is included?
- What is the cost?
- What are your business hours?
Thank you Kim for being the first in our Ask An Expert Series. You have help me build an amazing blog, and I know you are helping others realize their dreams. You can follow Kim on Twitter, and you can check out her site here.